Plant, Grow, Eat. Repeat. - New varieties of vegetables and herbs for your garden

Published on Fri, 04/28/2017 - 1:52pm

Every spring, a gardener’s thoughts turn to new varieties of delicious edibles that can be planted in the soil. Growing edibles in your own backyard garden gives you the opportunity to harvest many varieties of vegetables and herbs that are not available at your local grocery or organic produce store.

This year, try a zucchini of a different color or a compact watermelon that can be grown in a small garden or even a container. And there’s a new way to get kids interested in planting garden seeds.

Here are some of the best new varieties available from seed catalogs and websites.

Big watermelon taste, small package

A tasty new variety called Mini Love Hybrid Watermelon is small enough to grow on a deck or in a small garden. Mini Love Watermelon is a 2017 All-America Selection winner because of the juicy melons on super-compact 3-foot by 3-foot vines. Up to a half-dozen delicious fruits grow on each vine.

The mini size is just the beginning, because this new hybrid also boasts impressive disease resistance. Mini Love Watermelon stands up to anthracnose—a scourge of many other watermelon varieties—and the fruit has a thin rind that is strong enough to resist cracking and splitting. Best of all is the taste, because the dark red flesh is juicy, sweet, aromatic, and deliciously mouthwatering.

Mini Love melons weigh between seven and nine pounds, with a shape that varies from oval to round. Sow the seeds directly in the soil in raised hills, or grow in a container. A packet of seeds sells for $5.95 from Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, (800) 845-3369.

Prolific new yellow zucchini squash

Easy to grow and thriving in summer heat, a new bright yellow hybrid will delight with its firm texture and sweet, nutty flavor. Butterstick Zucchini Squash plants have a single-stem habit and a long harvest period that’s typical of zucchini plants. Butterstick produces a yellow, straight-neck squash that’s a visual delight on the plant and a tasty change on the dinner plate.

Each Butterstick Zucchini Hybrid plant grows 18 inches wide about about 24 inches tall, and in peak summer production the yellow fruits keep coming and coming. Sow the seeds directly in garden soil and harvest full-sized zucchini in 50 days. A packet of seeds sells for $4.95 from www.Burpee.com, (800) 888-1447.

‘Seed Bombs’ away!

Looking for a way to get kids into the garden for a lesson on growing backyard edibles? Seed Bombs are a great way to teach children how to garden, and they are fun for novice older gardeners, too.

Seed Bombs are handmade with red clay and worm castings to help bind them together and enrich the soil. These easy-to-grow seed bombs can be planted early in the spring once the chance of frost has passed. Just throw them in the garden and spray with a little water. Each Seed Bomb covers about five square feet of garden space.

Inside each gumball-sized Herbs Seed Bomb is a mixture of delicious non-GMO herb seeds such as basil, parsley, dill, and more. Also available are Salad Greens Seed Bombs that contain non-GMO seeds of chervil, red lettuce, cress, Swiss chard, and arugula. A bag of five Seed Bombs sells for $8.95 from www.americanmeadows.com.

Big tomatoes all summer long

Roma tomatoes are the secret ingredient used by great chefs for delicious tomato sauces. New for 2017 are two varieties of tomatoes that will produce tasty cooking tomatoes throughout the summer.

Giant Garden Paste is a large, boat-shaped red Roma tomato with the ideal blend of sugary sweetness and tangy acids. Weighing in at up to 10 ounces, these unusually-shaped fruits keep producing all summer long. The fruits will vary from eight to 10 ounces, with plenty of gels and solids that add flavor and zest to any recipe. Giant Garden Paste Tomatoes are crack-resistant, and resist both Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt. The result is a vigorous plant that is healthy, productive, and easy to grow. Use the fruit for canning, saucing, and fresh slicing right out of the garden.

These plants have an indeterminate growing habit, so the plant keeps growing and it keeps producing fruit throughout the summer and into fall. A packet of seeds sells for $2.95, or a six-pack of starter plants sell for $14.95 at Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, (800) 845-3369.

Another new Roma variety is Gladiator Hybrid Tomato, boasting impressive vigor, flavor, aroma and yield. The vigorous plants produce oval ,half-pound fruit in the garden or in a container. The dense flesh and tangy taste make Gladiator victorious for imparting rich, robust flavor to paste, sauces, soups, salsa, or ketchup.

Gladiator Hybrid Tomato is an indeterminate plant, producing fruit throughout the growing season. A packet of Gladiator Hybrid Tomato seeds sells for $6.95, or three garden-ready plants sell for $16.95, exclusively from Burpee at www.burpee.com or (800) 888-1447.

Enjoy the taste of homegrown potatoes

Homegrown potatoes offer a delicious taste, texture, and freshness store-bought can’t live up to. Yet his popular culinary staple is often overlooked by many gardeners.

A new potato variety called Huckleberry Gold is distinctively different than most common potato—beginning with its dark purple skin and soft yellow flesh. Huckleberry Gold plants produce small to medium-sized tubers that are roundish or oval shaped. When planted in the cool weather of spring, these potatoes are ready for mid-summer harvest.

Huckleberry Gold seed potatoes are organically grown in the U.S. A two-pound bag of seed potatoes sells for $9.25 and a five-pound bag sells for $18.75, exclusively from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds, www.IrishEyesGardenSeeds.com.

Different choi-ces

For something completely different, consider growing Li Ren Choy Hybrid Pak Choi. Pak Choi is a cool-season crop typically grown in fall and early winter.

Li Ren Choy is a new variety that combines all the best attributes of baby pak choi. It is a space saver, a quick crop, yet with well-developed flavor. Li Ren Choy is best picked very young—only 40 days from sowing. It loves cool weather, so sow it successively from late summer all the way to mid-fall. Seeds are best direct-sown in rows about 2 feet apart, thinning to 12 inches apart. A packet of 100 seeds sells for $3.95 from Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, (800) 845-3369.